Car Parts Producer Faces Retirement Lawsuit

The retirement plan for Tenneco Inc. employees is alleged to have committed two breaches of fiduciary duty.  

Automotive parts and emissions products manufacturer Tenneco Inc. faces a new retirement plan lawsuit brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.  

In Frayer et al v. Tenneco Inc. et al, plan participants Ryan Frayer and Tanika Parker, brought a class action complaint against Tenneco’s retirement plan and fiduciaries of the DRiV 401(k) Retirement Savings Plan. DRiV Automotive Inc., a business division of Tenneco, operates in Paragould, Arkansas; the complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Northern Division.

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“Defendants have breached their fiduciary duties to the Plan in violation of ERISA, to the detriment of the Plan and its participants and beneficiaries,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit alleges two counts of fiduciary breach, for failure of the duty of prudence and failure to monitor other fiduciaries. According to the complaint, excessive fees allegedly were charged against participants’ in-plan investments for recordkeeping services, and the plan fiduciaries failed to operate the plan prudently by failing to take advantage of the plan’s size to reduce those fees. 

Fiduciary Breaches Alleged

The plaintiffs’ complaint asks the court to certify a six-year class period “on behalf of all persons who were and/or are participants in and beneficiaries of the Plan at any time during the six-year period preceding the filing of the original Complaint and up through the present.”

Tenneco moved from Lake Forest, Illinois, to Northville, Michigan, after its November 2022 purchase by Apollo Global Management. Its 401(k) plan had 9,482 participants with account balances comprising $962,979,329 in net assets as of December 31, 2020, the complaint shows.

Because of size of the plan, “Defendants had and continue to have the ability to choose investment options not generally available and had and continue to have significant bargaining power with respect to the fees and expenses that were charged against participants’ investments and the fees and expenses charged for recordkeeping services,” the complaint states.

The Relief Sought

The plaintiffs asked the court to repay the plan for all losses and lost profits and to appoint an independent fiduciary to run the plan, among other requests.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from the law firm Quattlebaum, Grooms & Tull PLLC, based in Little Rock, Arkansas; and Foulston Siefkin LLP, based in Wichita, Kansas. Tenneco’s counsel is not listed on the complaint.

The lawsuit defendants are Tenneco Inc.; DRiV Automotive Inc.; Tenneco Automotive Operating Company Inc.; the Tenneco Benefits committee; and 30 unnamed individuals.

Tenneco representatives did not return a request for comment on the litigation.